Sunday, January 14, 2001

Mayor warns ex-chief

Villa Hills' Brown told to return badge

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        VILLA HILLS — Mayor Steve Clark is demanding that the police chief he fired last month, Michael “Corky” Brown, return his badge and uniform to the city by Monday or face possible legal action.

        The mayor, who abruptly fired Mr. Brown and City Clerk Sue Kramer in December, setting off a chaotic battle in this Northern Kentucky suburb, also has told council members he will veto their hiring of a Covington law firm to investigate “possible misconduct or neglect of duty” on the mayor's part in the police chief's firing.

        Thursday, Mr. Clark sent Mr. Brown a letter telling him he has until 11 a.m. Monday to turn over his badge, uniform “and other miscellaneous items” at the city building.

        The letter doesn't say what would happen if the fired chief does not comply, but the mayor told the Enquirer Saturday night there could be legal consequences.

        If the chief does not turn in the city property, “it is out of my hands,” Mr. Clark said. “That's a felony offense. He has city property.”

        Mr. Brown could not be reached for comment Satur day night, but Villa Hills Councilman Mike Sadouskas said he talked to the fired chief Saturday.

        “I don't know what he is going to do,” said Mr. Sadouskas, one of the councilmen who hired the law firm to investigate the mayor's action. “I know this is just sad, outrageous.”

        Mr. Sadouskas said Mr. Brown showed him his police badge and dress uniform and cried when talking about the letter asking him to turn them in.

        “He told me he had planned to be buried in that uniform,” Mr. Sadouskas said.

        “I just cannot understand why the mayor, if he didn't think the chief could be part of the team, didn't just let him resign,” Mr. Sadouskas said. “Instead, he had to humiliate him.”

        The furor over the firing of Mr. Brown and Mrs. Kramer has divided this community of about 8,000.

        A pro-Brown group called Citizens to Make Villa Hills the Most Liveable City ... Again plans to have dozens of members fan out across the city today distributing fliers about the two fired city officials.

        “We've put together a positive piece about Chief Brown and Sue Kramer to let people know what good public servants they have been,” said Steve Schletker, one of the group's organizers.

        The mayor has consistently said that, short of a court order, he won't discuss why he fired Chief Brown and Mrs. Kramer.

        “I can fire the chief at will,” Mr. Clark said Saturday. “I have the authority.”

        The firings came just hours after a state audit questioning more than $44,000 in city spending — including money paid for holiday parties, bar bills and travel — was made public. A Kenton County grand jury refused to indict Mr. Clark in November.

        In a special council meeting Jan. 6, council hired the Covington law firm of Taliaferro, Mehling, Shirooni, Carran & Keys to investigate the firing.

        Mr. Clark sent council members a letter Saturday saying he was vetoing the hiring, because the order approved by council did not appropriate funds for the law firm. Appropriation of funds, Mr. Clark said, can be done only by passage of a city ordinance.

        Phil Taliaferro, the lawyer handling the investigation for council, said he does not believe the mayor has power to veto the council's action.

        “My firm will investigate, just as it was hired to do,” Mr. Taliaferro said.


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